Big Dirk

How to Rise to the Decision-Making Challenge Like a Champion

After leaving his club in smallville Germany in 1998, Dirk Nowitzki landed with perennial losers The Dallas Mavericks.

After a difficult start with his new club in the “big league”, Nowitzki went on to lead the Dallas Mavericks to 13 NBA Playoffs, including the franchise’s first NBA Finals appearance in 2006 and only championship in 2011.

The highest scoring foreign-born player of all time, the big Bavarian is one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history.  No small feat.

What impresses me most about Nowitzki is not his amazing achievements but rather his hard work, commitment to winning and desire to do it for the same team.

This is a very rare thing in today’s massive money-driven market.

In July 2014 he took the decision to extend his contract for another 3 years, most likely making him a Maverick for life.  On July 6, 2017, Nowitzki re-signed with the Mavericks for a 20th season.

Leaders make decisions all the time. Sometimes tough ones. Leaders are also accountable for their decisions – no one is standing by to take the blame when something turns out less than perfect.

Decision making is a huge part of leadership. In fact, leaders are chosen for their ability to act decisively. Right or wrong, a true leader stands behind her decisions.

Though most of us don’t have to make split decisions on a super-charged basketball court, I’d like to share 3 questions, 3 guidelines and 2 models to help you rise to this critical leadership challenge.


When faced with making a tough decision it’s important to get clarity on a few things so that you can live with your decision, regardless of the outcomes.

Here are 3 questions for increased clarity:

  1. Do the people know why the decision is being made, i.e. do they understand the “why”?
  2. Is the decision aligned with your values?
  3. Are you prepared to live with the consequences if things don’t turn out like you planned?

BTW, if you want to inspire people, you’ve got to start here:


It’s equally as important that the information on which you base your decision is as accurate and thorough as possible.

“Where is the info coming from? Are the facts sound? Are the key players well-enough informed?”

Here are 3 guidelines to ensure you get the best information in the given timeframe:

  1. Over-Communicate:  Deliver clear messages to reduce ambiguity and increase transparency.
  1. Vet the Source:  Information is only as good as the source so make sure it’s a reliable one/s.
  1. Check the Facts:  Collect as many facts as you can and check them for accuracy (in given time frame).

If your decision is connected to a change, make sure your communication plan has these 5 basics:


When time is of the essence, and it usually is, you must be able to prioritize and think strategically.

Here are 2 highly effective, time-tested models that have helped thousands of leaders do just that:

1.  The Eisenhower Matrix

To help you distinguish between what’s important and what’s urgent, get to know the classic Eisenhower Matrix named after the US President who was famous for his timely decision-making ability.

This simple model allows you to break down your tasks before deciding which to tackle first. The 4 boxes in the Matrix helps with the prioritization.

Keep in mind that it’s important to make the time to deal with things that are important, but not urgent. Also, it’s a good idea to deal with important tasks before they become urgent.

2. The Rubber Band Model

TheRubberBandModelTo help you deal with the dilemma of choosing between more than 1 good option, ask yourself:

What’s holding me? What’s pulling me?

On first sight this may look like a variation on the classic pro’s vs. con’s method. However, by focusing on two attractive alternatives it’s a more positive and therefore powerful experience.

Illustration from The Decision Book by M. Krogerus & R. Tschäppeler


As the confidence and conviction to stand behind your decisions is just as important as the ability to act decisively, it pays to take the time to make sure your decisions are sound.

So the next time you’re faced with a tough decision…

– make sure the reasons for the decision are understood by all key players (incl. you!),

– check the available information to make the best decision in the timeframe given and

– decide what’s important, what’s urgent and where your positive energy is the strongest (if pulled in two directions).

Strategic Thinking in action!

What questions, guidelines or models help you make good decisions? Please share your comment with me and my readers below.

P.S. Good time management skills also help here. BIG TIME!